Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Trilogy Concludes

So last year I made a 'A whole year!' post on both sides of the experience of having a book out for a year. I overused the word 'surreal' and dished out a bunch of statistics.

Here are those same statistics updated, and by every measure they're a great improvement. Prince of Thorns gathered far more ratings and reviews in its second year than it did in its first and King of Thorns did far better in its first year than Prince of Thorns did in its first.

Emperor of Thorns is released in the UK and Australia today, it comes out in the US and Canada in 5 days time. Currently thanks to being Deal of the Week on UK Amazon the hardback is ranked #84 in all books and has #15th place on the Best Sellers in Epic Fantasy list with George RR Martin occupying 12 spaces above it.

click to see the detail

So, it's only been two years and already we're at the end! The trilogy is complete. I could have chosen to write another three books of Jorg, another six... and people do. Financially it would be a good idea. The received wisdom is that if you're lucky enough to find something that sells... stick to it like grim death! The chances are that every time you make a change you'll lose a huge number of readers and accelerate the downward spiral that is the typical career path of most writers - not most writers you love, they're the special lucky ones, but most writers out there start with a small *boom* and then nosedive, so if you catch an up-current... you stick with it.

Rather stupidly I held my story higher than my bank balance and have called time on Jorg. There's a power in ending things. I hope that if people ever have chats about the Jorg and his tale it won't be the typical 'which book did you read up to / give up on' that characterizes 12-part serials that only halt because sales drop past the point of sustainability. I hope that all parties in this hypothetical water-cooler convo will have read the trilogy and be glad in retrospect that I knew where to stop.

Do I wish Tolkien had written another 6 Lord of the Rings books where we follow Frodo and Aragorn on into new adventures? As much as I love LotR I'm rather glad he didn't. I'm not claiming the same grandeur for the Broken Empire, just the same desire.

Obviously long series have worked spectacularly before, but with a tightly focused single-PoV character driven story... well, in my bones I knew it was time to stop.

Taking a leaf from Tolkien and other fantasy writers though, I do have some other stories to tell in and about the world of the Broken Empire and will be telling them for a while to come yet.

So. Two years, two extra-ordinary years, and three books.

Very many thanks to everyone who has been part of the journey.

And if you want to hop on board for the next one - it starts June 2014 with

Prince of Fools - the tale of a cowardly womanizing bully whose luck runs out in the Broken Empire


  1. Great stuff Mark, I'm proudly clutching my signed edition! But to keep it pristine I need the audiobook... when can I expect it, and who's reading, if not the fabulous Joe?

  2. Mark, it has been my incredible pleasure to be a part of this fantastic journey of yours. I not only gained a new voice to listen for in literature but a wonderful giving human being. I've enjoyed following your posts not only literary in content but your personal posts as well and you have a fan for life. I raise my glass to your adventures so far and look forward to what's to come.

  3. I started reading "Jorg III" right after the ebook was available and already made good progress. This is already a telltale that it is a good book and I have high hopes it will come to a satisfying conclusion.

    Thanks for writing the series, I will definitely check out "Prince of Fools". Though I think I deeply fell in love with Queen Miana the very moment she used that crossbow. Wouldn't mind reading about the "Queen of Thorns". :)

    "Prince of Fools shows us the world of the Broken Empire with a thicker vein of humor than Jorg’s tale" <- sounds good to me.

  4. I for one am happy you aren't leaving the Broken Empire. Even if you were...I would read whatever you wrote. I think most of your fans would agree with me. And if you didn't write anything else, well I'd just keep re-reading Jorg :D

  5. I just got the book but I live in India any idea how I might be able to get it signed

  6. My Emperor hardback is on its way and I can't wait to start reading it. Having followed Jorg's adventure since not long after Prince came out, I can say it's been an interesting couple of years for me too, anxiously awaiting each sequel, and I'm so glad you're not quitting fantasy writing, or even the Broken Empire. Will certainly read Prince of Fools, and anything else you come out with.

  7. Congrats on your newest release!

  8. It definitely pays to know when to end things. Too many TV shows squeeze out another season when they should have ended two seasons ago, and this is likely the case with books - though I admit I have been committed to few long-standing series (except Pratchett's "Discworld" - but those could also stand alone). I love series in that I love getting to know characters and following their development - as long as they still have developments to make. But a long series can be a huge commitment, esp when there are so many other books/series out there. I think the smart decision (and don't take my work for it, I'm a know-nothing) is to have a core series of 3 or so books and then go on with a few supporting volumes. I found Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy after starting with his (related but) stand alone books, and I don't feel like I ruined my reading experience by doing so - though some may beg to differ. I read and enjoyed Raymond E. Feist's first trilogy and one of the off-shoots, but when I returned to a later volume in the continuing saga, I was sorely disappointed. These, of course, are only my experiences. But I commend you.

  9. Will there be an Audiobook version? I just finished listening to your previous books yesterday and I absolutely loved them.

  10. Hi Mark - I was wondering when you think we might be getting some previews/more info on Prince of Fools? I can't wait to read it!
    Also one more question that may or may not be able to be favourite character in the Broken Empire Trilogy was always Makin, right alongside Jorg, and I was wondering if he has a role or is mentioned in Prince of Fools [or any of the Red Queen's War books]? Or maybe it's far too soon to reveal and I'm just totally over-eager...
    In any case, I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Prince of Fools when it's released!

  11. In my humble opinion, knowing when to quit speaks of pride and the desire for long term remembrance of greatness. Your books are indeed great. The fact that you put this whole trilogy together in two years while other more well known authors take years for a single sequel tells me that your ability to write and commit your imaginings to paper is, frankly, terrifying. Your broken empire has entertained me and the short ride has left me longing for more. I haven't yet finished the third book but I am already sad that the story of Jorg is ending. However, I am also ecstatic that you haven't traveled the road the likes of Robert Jordan, R. A. Salvatore and countless other authors have traveled. Their stories became diluted and bland with each added book. In short, my hat is off to you, kind sir. You are a visionary in grim fantasy and I will gladly purchase and repurchase any book that you write in the future. (My apologies for any improper punctuation. I plan on taking a class for it)

  12. Thank you for a brilliant series.

    My son handed me the first book when he persuaded me to get Emperor, and I am in his debt.

    I loved how Jorg dealt with his challenges and grew and developed.

  13. First of all, a character or group of characters never die. That's the luxury of fiction...obviously doesn't have to fall in chronological order or keep to the restrictions of life and death as we know it. Saying that, I'm cool with how you called an end to Jorg's biography. Out of all my true book reading friends, I'm the only one who actually finished Robert Jordan's "could he be more ridiculous in how long and drawn out it became - dear gods!!!" series. I don't know what your up-and-coming book is about, but unless it's all unicorns who fart rainbows, I'll be reading it.